Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
Authored by Ben Macintire, Narrated by John Lee
Audiobook, 11 hours and 18 minutes
Published by Random House Audio, May 2010
“All warfare is based on deception.” – Sun Tzu
As the North African campaign was winding down the Allies faced a problem. Sicily was the to be the next objective for the Allied advance, and it was the obvious choice. So obvious that the Germans (or anyone else with a map) were sure to anticipate the invasion and reinforce the area. If the Germans could be convinced that the landings would occur elsewhere, they might redeploy their forces, thus saving countless lives.
Operation Mincemeat was part of a deception plan designed to make the Germans think the main Allied landings would occur in Greece and Sardina, the landings in Sicily were to only be a feint. The idea was one of many proposed by Naval Intelligence CDR Ian Flemming (yes, that Ian Fleming) in what was known as the “Trout memo” because of analogies to fly fishing. The idea was a plot device in a spy novel Fleming had read, and was titled “A Suggestion (not a very nice one)”. A corpse was to be dressed as a Major in the Royal Marines and dropped in the ocean near the Spanish coast where it would be sure to be recovered and turned over to German intelligence agents. Handcuffed to its wrist would be a briefcase which included various papers, including sealed letters between British General Officers detailing Allied preparations for the Greek and Sardinian landings.
Macintire’s books are examples of how exhaustive research can be woven into a compelling story. While the general story of Mincemeat has been told before as “The Man Who Never Was”, there are several details which were long classified and are only now being revealed in this book. The attention to detail involved in creating a complete back story for the deceased Major is incredible. The difficulties in obtaining and transporting what would appear to be a recent victim of an air accident and placing it in a plausible position to fall into German hands was a complex undertaking in itself. This is a brilliant insight into the intricacies of intelligence operations and the dark world of covert operations. Highly recommended.